Handling Team Complaints About Team Leaders

Complaints are bound to happen and are normal in any team. While they can be troublesome or even annoying, effectively handling a complaint and resolving the issue can not only boost team morale, but it can provide everyone with constructive feedback that can aid in a solution. Do not discourage your team members from bringing forth their complaints. Allow them an open place to come to, and welcome the chance for improvement.

Related: Leadership Outcome Based Team Building Activities

Keep the Information Confidential

Before a team member feels comfortable enough to bring forth their complaints about a team leader, they have to feel that their information will only be given to those that need to be involved. They don’t want to feel as though their complaint or problem will be shared with the rest of the team, or that they will be singled out as ‘causing trouble’. The same can go for team leaders – they don’t want their mistakes flaunted in front of others. Ensure your team members that they can come to you and their information and complaints will be kept confidential. If the team is still not comfortable enough to speak in person, offer another outlet that doesn’t require direct contact with management, such as a human resource agent or an anonymous complaint line.

Gather Information from Both Sides

When approached by a team member regarding a team leader, it can be easy to jump to conclusions based on what this person is telling you. But remember that there are always two sides to every story. After speaking with the team member, let them know you will look into the matter and get back to them. Then have a private meeting with the team leader in question and let them tell their side of the problem. Once you have both sides, if possible, have a joint meeting in which you can ask about both sides of the problem together. This may not always be an option if the team member wishes to remain anonymous, so be prepared to take notes on each statement and go from there alone.


  • Take time to hear both sides of the situation
  • Hold private, individual meetings before meeting together
  • Be objective – avoid picking sides or becoming bias

Coach or Delegate the Solution

Once you have handled the situation and have come up with a way to resolve the problem, it is important to decide who will carry out the plan and how. If you are able to help implement a solution, offer yourself as a coach for support and advice. Sometimes team leaders or team members  aren’t sure where to go after a complaint has been resolved, so be there to help them get back on track and back to work. However, there may be complaints that you are not able to help carry out, in which case you may designate another manager or employee to help the parties resolve their problem. Since you will not directly be involved in instances such as this, ensure that everyone knows what they are supposed to do and who they can come back to if they have future problems.

Follow-up with the Team Leader or Team Member

After the complaint or problem has been investigated and eventually resolved, make time to follow up with the team member and or the team leader. Is there tension between the parties involved? Are working conditions any better? This can be done in a variety of ways, including quick check-ins on the floor or holding meetings to speak with the person privately. See if the issue has been resolved or if they still need help finding a better solution. Again, offer your personal help, if possible, or offer another resource the team member or team leader can try, such as human resources.

Common methods used to follow up:

  • Individual meetings
  • Observation on the floor or office
  • Phone calls
  • Stop by the team member’s desk to check in


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